By Marina Forero-Ferrandino
and Warren A. Peña
To the Editor:
Since becoming president, chairman of the board and executive director of the South Norwalk Community Center, it has been an interesting ride to say the least. However, throughout all the turbulence in our building we have remained focused on growth centered on delivering information and education to the South Norwalk Community at large. There are a lot in the community who want details, who want to understand what it is that we do day in day out. Well, here you have it from March to December of 2013.
SoNoCC continues to provide social services through case management. We had 180 case files handled in person, which resulted in 216 referrals to other entities for a total of 396 unique contacts. We do this with one part-time (bi-lingual) employee working 24 hours per week. We anticipate these numbers to grow in 2014, servicing 1,050 unique contacts. The demand is estimated at 3,000 unique contacts, which would require two additional employees, one Spanish-English speaker and one Creole-English speaker.
Through seminars and informational forums, we were able to educate the community on topics such as driver’s licenses for the undocumented, immigration reform, empowerment, and health/ wellness. We had a total of 447 participants. We have hosted celebratory events touching 914 participants that include a Christmas lunch, dinner and celebration. We also celebrated Hispanic Heritage month. During the holidays, we gave away more than 1,000 winter coats to those in need and distributed 250 holiday gifts to children in the South Norwalk Community. SoNoCC was happy to host civic engagement events that included a voter registration seminar and both the Democratic mayoral primary debate and the general election debate that touched 236 members of our community.
The exciting aspect is that we have collaborated with other non-profits to continue to meet the ongoing needs of our community:
• Person to Person: More than 400 families received large bags filled with wish-list items for the holiday season at SoNoCC.
• A Better South Norwalk team helped feed 250 people in our community during a Thanksgiving feast and 500 children received Christmas gifts delivered to their doors on Christmas Eve.
• AmeriCares Free Clinic served 1,000 clients at SoNoCC in 2013.
• Norwalk Public Schools (Parents as Teachers [PAT], have 4 to 6 children participate in PAT programming with us on a weekly basis.
• Horizons of New Canaan tutors 2 to 3 children 1-on-1 in our Mayor’s room throughout the school year.
• INTAKE Organization with 30 children rehearsed over a two-month period in preparation for their holiday performances at SoNoCC.
• Estampas de Mexico has 12 children utilize SoNoCC for its dance troupe rehearsals on a weekly basis.
• Danza Azteca Tonantzint has a group of 10 mothers who rehearse their dance troupe on a weekly basis.
• Norwalk Police Department, through its SoNo Day Out festival at Ryan Park, drew more than 300 local residents, where SoNoCC was a collaborating partner.
• Salvation Army is present to help those that have suffered from Hurricane Sandy.
Our programs consist of instrumental music lessons (recorder) where 42 children meet 3 days per week for group lessons. Private guitar lessons are given to 10 individuals on a weekly basis. We have Zumba classes where 22 mothers participate on a weekly basis. We have SAT prep classes that have 20 high school students receiving instruction on a weekly basis. AA (alcohol anonymous) meetings in Spanish where 8 individuals meet weekly to maintain sobriety.
In summary, here are the numbers of people SoNoCC has touched with an almost 100 percent volunteer staff and no funding:
• 396 lives touched through case management work
• 447 through seminars and informational forums
• 914 through celebratory events
• 236 on civic engagement
• 2,511 collaborating with other non-profits
• 102 through SoNoCC programs
• Total: 4,606 lives touched from March 2013 to Dec. 2013.
In addition to that, 1,000 winter coats and 250 Christmas gifts distributed. More to come in 2014, stay tuned.
Marina Forero-Ferrandino, Executive Director
Warren A. Peña, President and Chairman of the Board